Saying, hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
&c.] That is, as yet, for their commission was not contradicted, nor taken away by Christ; and at the time appointed, at the blowing of the several trumpets, they let loose the winds, and let in the Goths, Hans, and Vandals, the Saracens and Turks into the empire, and after that poured out the vials of God's wrath upon the Romish antichrist: this retarding of them was but in appearance, that there might be an opportunity to show to John what care would be taken all along of the church of Christ, and true servants of the living God:
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads;
the servants of sin, Satan, and the beast of Rome, were took no notice nor care of; they were the persons to be hurt by the winds, signified by the earth, sea, and trees, even idolaters, small and great; but "the servants of our God", who serve him with grace in their hearts, from a principle of love, in the exercise of faith, without servile fear, and with reverence and godly fear, in righteousness and true holiness, and with a view to his glory; and are worshippers of him in spirit and in truth, being followers of the Lamb, whithersoever he goes; and so are the servants of his God, and their God; the sealing of them does not design the sealing of them with the seal of election, this was done in eternity; nor with the seal of the Spirit, which is common to all the saints in all ages; but it denotes the hiding and concealing, and so securing the saints amidst all the calamities of the empire, and throughout the whole time of the Romish apostasy, from first to last; and respects the time when the church fled into the wilderness, and was hid, and nourished with the hidden manna, for a time, and times, and half a time, ( Revelation 12:14 ) . Christ set a mark upon them, as was upon the houses of the Israelites, when the destroying angel passed through Egypt, and destroyed the firstborn in it; and as was upon the foreheads of those that sighed and cried in Jerusalem, when orders were given to slay young and old, ( Exodus 12:23 ) ( Ezekiel 9:4 ) . Christ will have a people in the worst of times; he knows who are his, and he will take care of them; he has his chambers of protection to hide them in, till the indignation is over past: the sealers, "we", are either Father, Son, and Spirit, who are all jointly concerned for the welfare of the eject; or Christ and his ministering angels that attend him, whom he employs for the good and safety of the heirs of salvation: the seal with which these are sealed is the seal of the living God, the foreknowledge, love, care, and power of God; and the name of God, even Christ's Father's name, and their Father's name, in their foreheads; the new name of children of God, by and under which they are known and preserved by him: and this is said to be "in their foreheads", in allusion to servants, who used to be marked in their foreheads; hence they are called by Apuleius F3 "frontes literati"; and by Martial, a servant is called "fronte notatus" F4: but then these were such who had committed faults, and this was done by way of punishment F5; wherefore it can hardly be thought that the servants of God should be sealed, in allusion to them: but rather with reference to the mitre on the high priest's forehead, as some think; or it may be to ( Ezekiel 9:4 ) , and shows, that though these persons were hid and concealed from men, they were well known to God and Christ; nor were they ashamed to make a public and open confession of Christ before men, as did the true and faithful witnesses of Christ, the Waldenses and Albigenses, in the midst of the greatest darkness of Popery, and of danger from men; and who seem to be chiefly intended.
F3 Metamorph. l. 9. p. 130.
F4 Epigr. l. 3. Ep. 20.
F5 Vid. Popma de Operis Servorum, p. 170